Celebrating Young Leaders: Abbey Rees

This month, The Concerned Kids is highlighting an incredible young student for her giving spirit. Abbey Rees is a grade 6 student attending St. Peters Catholic Elementary School in Cambridge, Ontario. Abbey is an inspiring young leader who is made an impact in her hometown this past holiday season by organizing a food drive for her school. TCK connected with Abbey and her mom, Stephanie, to learn more about her work.

TCK - Hi Abbey! What can you tell us about your project?

Abbey - I started a food drive at my elementary school. The donations went to the Cambridge food bank. We called it the “12 Days of Giving Food Drive” because each day the school would participate in bringing in a new item, kind of like an advent calendar. We brought in items from canned veggies to pasta to baby food and pet food. There was something new to bring each day for the 12 days of giving. This food drive ran for 12 school days in December 2021.

TCK - What an incredible idea! What inspired you to take action and begin this project within your community?

Abbey - During the pandemic, my family lost an income and it was hard to keep our cupboards full. There wasn’t a lot of money to do extra things, like going for long family car rides because of the price of gas. Fortunately, we got out of that situation, but some families are still in a similar situation. I knew that we were not the only family going through this, so I decided to challenge my schoolmates to help me, help [others] who are also going through tough times.

TCK - How did you get started? And who helped you along the way?

Abbey- Before I started this food drive, I organized another food drive when I was online last year. I did it mostly from home, but the school gathered some [food] for me, too. I started off with a goal of 100, and I ended up with 500 donations. To start this food drive, I talked to my principal, his name is Mr. Hunt (E.J Hunt). Mr. Hunt helped me a lot. He even gave me the idea to do a “12 Days of Giving Food Drive” instead of a regular food drive. Then I started to make a slide show of all the foods that kids could bring in each day. It was shown every morning on school announcements. My awesome teacher, Mrs. Smith (Shanna Smith), gave me the idea to make a flyer to give to every kid in school to tell them what foods to bring on what day, [and] she also helped me make it. I also could not have done this without my grade 5-6 class. Lots of the students helped by making bright and colourful flyers, and putting them around the school. They also took recesses off to help collect the food from each classroom each day. My parents also helped and encouraged me along the way. My dad scheduled the food bank truck to come on the last day of the food drive. Also of course with the help of the 272 St. Peter kids who brought in over 1300 canned items.

TCK - That is an incredible effort by you and your whole school. What was the impact that your project had on your local community?

Abbey - We raised over 1300 canned food items, that will for sure feed over 100 families a delicious Christmas dinner. Hopefully, that also makes other families and schools want to donate to those who need it.

TCK - That is a great suggestion. How can others support this project?

Abbey - Unfortunately, this food drive came to an end in December, but it is never too late to donate to your local food bank or even start your own food drive with your friends and family.

TCK - What are your goals for this project in the future?

Abbey - My goal for this project in the future is to hopefully let more people than yesterday live comfortably. Of course, I can not do that by myself do I need the rest of the world to help me by donating to those who need it. My other goal is to let people know how important it is to donate, not only food but other objects like blankets and toothbrushes. It all helps.

TCK - Thank you Abbey for sharing your story with our team at TCK. Your humility, empathy for others, and confidence have helped so many families in your hometown. What would you like to tell other children who want to make a difference in their community?

Abbey - I would like to tell other children in their community that they can do anything. Even if you donate 5 cans of food, it can still feed at least 1 family a big meal, and that makes a difference. They may not know you personally, but they are for sure thankful for you to have done that. If you have donated to your local food bank then you should be proud of yourself because someone just had a nice family meal because of you. Any of you can make a difference!

Do you have an inspiring young leader in your life? Nominate them today to be featured in our TCK Newsletter by contacting

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